How bubble tea can affect your health

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Bubble tea has been in the news lately, not only for the long queues of patient customers lining up for a cup of their favourite brew, but also because of the high sugar content found in these beverages.

Consultant physician Dr Tan Wee Yong and dietitian Kong Woan Fei share their thoughts on this latest food craze.

Question: Can bubble tea make you gain weight?

I would say, yes. The main culprit is the sugar contained in the drink. On average, a cup of bubble tea contains 20 teaspoons of sugar. For a normal healthy adult, it is recommended to take no more than eight teaspoons of sugar a day.

Bubble tea can definitely make you gain weight as it adds on to your daily calorie intake. One cup of bubble tea can contain at least 370 calories. The boba (or “bubble”) alone is 150 calories.

Q: Can it cause diabetes?

Drinking bubble tea will not cause diabetes directly. However, its sugar content can pose a high risk of not only diabetes, but also low immunity, accelerated ageing and tooth decay.

Q: Is less sugar or no sugar bubble tea better for health?

If you request for less sugar, it will reduce the harm, but not necessarily make it harm-free. We have to remember that in our daily intake, we also consume other products that contain lots of hidden sugar.

When you hear “brown sugar” and “fresh milk”, you probably think that these are healthier ingredients, but you must ask yourself, how much brown sugar is used? And what about the other ingredients, specifically the boba? Of course, requesting for less sugar or no sugar is better, but you still cannot categorise this as a harmless drink in view of the other ingredients.

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